Bucknell University and Encore Renewable Energy of Burlington, Vt., are celebrating the completion of a 1.76 peak megawatt solar array now in place on Bucknell's campus.
Bucknell and Encore, the project's vendor, will formally mark the completion of the array — which will supply the equivalent of approximately 7% of campus electrical usage and will move Bucknell a step closer to achieving its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 — with a public dedication at the project site on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. The array is scheduled to come online in the coming weeks.
Dedication speakers will include Bucknell President John Bravman; Chad Farrell '92, founder and CEO of Encore Renewable Energy; Bucknell student Colton Jiorle '25, an electrical engineering and engineering & management double major; Jim Knight, Bucknell project manager and East BuffaloTownship supervisor; and a representative from Greenbacker Capital Management, which has provided funding for the project. They will also participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"Bucknell has been actively seeking solar opportunities in an effort to achieve goals found in the University's sustainability plan," Bravman says. "We are pleased to be partnering with Encore and Greenbacker on this project, which will be a model for other organizations of how mid-scale solar power can expand cost-effective renewable energy in Pennsylvania."
In addition to achieving Bucknell sustainability goals, the project will enhance opportunities for renewable-energy focused teaching and research across multiple disciplines. It will additionally generate property tax revenues to East Buffalo Township, provide Bucknell with price certainty on energy rates for the next several decades, and strengthen the region's commitment to the production and use of renewable energy.
"Completing this solar array has been a long process, requiring the efforts of numerous people," Knight says. "The clean, renewable energy it contributes to the grid will benefit both the University and the local community. It also provides a great opportunity for student education and research in this rapidly expanding field."
The location for the array provides prime sun exposure and is not in close proximity to residential properties. The project consists of south-facing panels tilted at 25 to 30 degrees, with a maximum height of nine feet. The seven-acre array of panels are surrounded with an agricultural fence to ensure safety. The site has also been replanted with pollinator friendly vegetation between the panels to attract bees, butterflies and other species critical to future food security.
"As a Bucknell University graduate, I am proud to see my alma mater advancing this important project. With the recent passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the single largest climate bill in our nation's history, the renewable industry is poised for exponential growth creating hundreds of thousands of jobs," Farrell says. "This project is an example of how Bucknell is leading the way among academic institutions in both decarbonization as well as providing avenues for hands-on learning for students poised to enter the clean energy workforce."
Parking for the dedication is available in Lot 77 near the baseball stadium, Eugene B. Depew Field. From Route 15, turn west on Smoketown Road, then right on Bucknell West Drive. Follow the signs to Lot 77. Shuttle service is available from the Lot 77 to the event location, as well as from Dent Drive at Marts Hall. Please see the campus parking map for details.